SYDNEY: Trust and transparency play a vital role in determining the strength of any relationship between a brand and its customers, yet it appears only 15% of Australian companies explicitly indicate they share consumer data with third parties.

That is one of the key findings from the latest Australian Privacy Index, produced each year by Deloitte, the professional services firm, which assessed the privacy practices of Australia’s top 100 brands and checked the views of 1,000 consumers.

It comes just a fortnight after Commonwealth Bank admitted it lost backup data for almost 20m accounts in 2016 yet did not go public about the incident at the time, Mumbrella reported.

Australian consumers place great emphasis on brand loyalty and trust, the Deloitte report confirmed, with 69% of respondents stating that trust in a brand is most important when deciding whether to share personal information.

And trust is a more important factor than benefits received, such as discounts, personalised services and rewards. “Honest communication about which data is being used for what, and why, will be essential for future value exchange,” said Tommy Viljoen, Deloitte’s national cyber risk services lead partner.

“Each brand will use this information differently. Some will commoditise it, others will use it to create a more customised experience,” he added. “In either case, transparency with the consumer on how their personal information will be used and protected is critical.”

Significantly, the study revealed that brands are more likely to lose consumer trust and damage their reputation if data is used for the cross-selling of personal information (68%), inappropriate marketing (58%) and trading data to generate sales (54%), IT Wire reported.

A full 90% of consumers say they expect to be notified if their personal details get exposed in a breach, yet three-quarters (76%) would be more likely to trust a brand after a breach if it provided timely notification, a clear explanation and details about what it would do to rectify the situation.

However, 58% of consumers are still unaware that companies have a legal obligation under the Privacy Act to notify them if their data was likely to be misused after a breach.

“As the relationship between brands and consumers constantly evolves, brands have to amend their privacy practices to meet both consumer expectations and regulatory change,” said Viljoen.

“The increasing emphasis on consumers ‘owning and having control over’ their data is a seismic change to the status quo.”

Sourced from Deloitte, Mumbrella, IT Wire; additional content by WARC staff